Chapter 9 Conservation Actions

9.1. Introduction

Since the first version of SLSS appeared in 2003, millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of person-hours of effort are likely to have been invested in conserving of snow leopards, their prey and their habitats.

This conservation response takes many forms: international agreements aimed at protecting the snow leopard and other biodiversity, legal protection at national level, new and enlarged protected areas, scientific research, field conservation projects, capacity building, alternative livelihood support, ecotourism programs, socio-economic surveys, awareness-raising and others.

The charismatic nature of the snow leopard confers an immediate advantage in terms of public appeal and the species is widely used as a flagship for ecosystems and projects. This iconic quality is shared with a very small number of other mammals – mainly big cats and great apes.

Two international NGOs are entirely dedicated to snow leopard conservation: the Snow Leopard Conservancy (SLC) and Snow Leopard Trust (SLT), while a third, Panthera, has snow leopards as one of its core programs. Other INGOs engaged in snow leopard conservation include Fauna & Flora International (FFI), Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union Germany (NABU), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), World Wide Fund for Nature or WWF (including the US-based World Wildlife Fund), and numerous other smaller international and national NGOs.

Several successful community-based conservation models are being implemented across the snow leopard distribution range by various organizations. The extent of success of this diverse range of conservation efforts may vary but there is little published information on their performance. Such research would be highly useful in designing and adapting conservation programs. Larger international NGOs have developed monitoring frameworks to evaluate their conservation programs, but it would be useful if a cooperative, standardized monitoring framework were put in place.

An inventory of ongoing conservation and education awareness programs across range countries has yet to be undertaken, although some information is available from the National Action Plans (NSLEPs) submitted in support of the Global Snow Leopard Environment Protection Plan (GSLEP). SLN should consider establishing a database for partner organizations (government, NGOs, INGOs etc) to share projects and lessons learned. Mishra et al. (2003) and Jackson et al. (2010) summarized economic and incentive-based programs for snow leopard conservation.

9.2. Handicrafts

The Snow Leopard Enterprises handicrafts initiative (SLE) was established in Mongolia about 10 years ago (Snow Leopard Trust, unpublished data, Mishra et al. 2003). Currently it also operates in Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan and northern India, involving some 250 producers. To date the program has generated nearly 1 million dollars in sales with herder families increasing their household income by nearly 40%. Artisans receive training and simple tools to develop culturally appropriate woollen products that are marketed overseas in the USA and Europe by the Snow Leopard Trust. In exchange, each community signs a conservation contract stipulating a moratorium on snow leopard and wild ungulate poaching. Full compliance with the contract brings the herders a 20% bonus over the agreed price of their products; this bonus is split between the artisans and a community conservation fund. A single contract violation loses the entire community’s bonus. The resultant peer pressure results in collaboration to stop or significantly reduce poaching by both locals and outsiders with compliance being monitored by protected area rangers, law enforcement agencies and the SLE.

9.3. Savings and credit programs

S&C Programs tie snow leopard conservation to livelihood promotion under a community-managed savings and loan arrangement. For example, the Snow Leopard Conservancy provided $8,000 in seed funding to over 200 community members in four communities in the Mt. Everest National Park in Nepal. Loans at competitive interest rates are provided to eligible members to support entrepreneurial income-generating activities, with the community augmenting the fund from cultural shows targeting foreign tourists. Within a 3-year period these S&C members almost quadrupled the fund amount, of which 15% (approximately $700) supported community-led conservation initiatives ranging from partially compensating herders for livestock losses incurred to predators and for habitat monitoring. An additional 10% was provided to village schools for biodiversity awareness programs including World Environment Day (June 5). The program is being expanded to other settlements, as well as the Annapurna Conservation Area.

9.4. Corral improvements

Predator-proofing corrals and night-time livestock shelters significantly reduces depredation on livestock by snow leopards, in particular multiple kills and has achieved positive effects in Hemis National Park, Ladakh (Jackson and Wangchuk 2001). While formalized records of improved corrals are currently lacking, to date many dozens of structures have already been predator-proofed in snow leopard areas in Afghanistan, northern India, Nepal, Pakistan and Tajikistan by the government and conservation organizations. However, substantial funds and human resources would be required to improve livestock pens over significant portions of snow leopard range, since each livestock-owning household could have 2-3 or more village- and/or pasture-based facilities. Thus, conservationists need to ensure corral improvements target high risk depredation sites and high density snow leopard areas, drawing on a combination of interviews of livestock owners, depredation records, diet assessments, snow leopard habitat mapping and predator status abundance surveys. depredation records, diet assessments, snow leopard habitat mapping and predator status abundance surveys. The improvement or construction of community corrals used jointly by several families increases the coverage and cost efficiency of this approach.

9.5. Livestock insurance

Locally-managed livestock insurance programs are operating in at least five range countries. The first was established in Pakistan’s Baltistan region Hussain (2000). The scheme which is managed by the participating local communities and financed through premiums contributed by participating families along with contributions from the sponsoring NGO, was rapidly embraced by the three settlements and 151 families. Thirteen years later the project had expanded into ten villages in three different valleys (Rosen et al. 2012). Such insurance schemes have led to greater tolerance of snow leopards amongst local communities. With local management by village-level committees and family-paid premiums, local ownership is strengthened, as is internal peer pressure against corruption or false claims. On the other hand, capitalizing insurance funds can present a special challenge: for example, in eastern Nepal, almost $60,000 in capital funds were required to fund a program covering less than 50 households. Another program in India’s Spiti Valley is supported with conservation funds (60% over 5 years) in addition to premiums contributed by the participating families (remaining 40%) with the goal of becoming financially self-sustaining within 5 years. Obviously, the higher the depredation losses, the larger the fund balance required, especially where payments accrue from the interest revenue stream.

9.6. Veterinary assistance

Conservationists are also tackling issues related to animal health, since livestock losses to disease (up to 50% or more) usually far exceed losses to snow leopards. For example in Pakistan, a pilot livestock vaccination program vaccinates livestock against common diseases in exchange for herder’s tolerating depredation. Participants agreed to cease snow leopard persecution, reduce their livestock holdings, and improve fodder handling methods to increase forage availability for wild herbivores. Programs like this create economic incentives by increasing livestock survival and productivity, with sales of excess animals bringing each family some $400 per annum (Snow Leopard Trust, unpublished data).

9.7. Ecotourism

The Himalayan Homestays initiative is a good example of a tourism program in which local people directly benefit from protecting snow leopards and other wildlife through household managed “bed and breakfasts” operations active over extensive areas in Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir State, India. The first traditional homestays were established in Hemis National Park, India’s premier snow leopard protected area. Well over 100 families in more than 20 communities in Ladakh, Zanskar and Spiti currently participate with homestay operators located in prime snow leopard habitat earning $100–1,500 during the brief 4-month tourist season (Snow Leopard Conservancy, unpublished data). Approximately 10-15% of homestay profits go into a village conservation fund which has supported tree planting, garbage management and recently the establishment of a village wildlife reserve for the threatened Tibetan argali (Ovis ammon hodgsoni). Efforts are underway to initiate similar ecotourism programs in Bhutan, Mongolia and Russia.

9.8. Education and awareness-raising

Initiatives have been, or are being, implemented in virtually all range countries; these range from the production of educational tool-kits for teachers, children and the general public (e.g. books and posters) to specific classroom and outdoor activities aimed at sensitizing urban and rural school children to conservation issues, including biodiversity and sustainable development. For example, in Nepal and India, a series of reading booklets about snow leopards and their role in the environment have been produced in both English and local languages including Tibetan Braille. Youth clubs have been formed to help teachers implement educational and awareness activities. In Nepal’s Annapurna Conservation Area Project, youths known as Snow Leopard Scouts work with local herders to assist biologists deploy remote trail cameras for monitoring snow leopards.

9.9. Capacity building

Significant funding has been expended on this by donor governments, multilateral agencies, and several international NGOs, with the primary recipients governmental and NGO workers and protected areas.  NGOs in particular have invested heavily in training of personnel, protected area management planning, and provision of vehicles, horses and essential equipment for protected area staff in many range countries from Afghanistan to Tajikistan. Training has covered community development and livelihoods enhancement, human-wildlife conflict resolution, field survey techniques, monitoring, camera-trapping, among other activities. However, community members have often been overlooked at the governmental  policy level when it comes to community empowerment and replacing top-down dictates with participatory capacity building and planning The Global Snow Leopard & Ecosystem Protection Plan prepared by the World Bank, NGO’s, other partner organizations and range state governments places local communities as key stewards for implementing many of the recommended actions (see the individual National Snow Leopard Ecosystem Priorities or NSLEP documents and the Global Snow Leopard Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP: http://www.akilbirs.com/files/final_gslep_web_11_%2014_%2013.pdf).

9.10. The challenge

Scaling-up these and related actions is the most important challenge facing snow leopard conservationists. Initiatives to date have been heavily subsidized, limited to relatively small areas, and supported over the short-term. Project transaction costs and human resources are high, since developing the necessary skills for undertaking relatively complex, competitive market-based enterprises like handicrafts production, traditional homestays, and nature guiding is time-consuming. Creating a self-sustaining market for such goods or services, and implementing monitoring activities for ensuring compliance with species or general biodiversity conservation goals adds to costs. Finally donors often fail to appreciate that significant returns on community-based programs may not be forthcoming for 5-10 years, while implementing agencies are hard-pressed to demonstrate tangible results within the typical 2-5 year time-frame expected by donors (Jackson et al. 2010).

At the October 2013 Global Snow Leopard Forum in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, all 12 snow leopard states agreed, with support from interested organizations, to work together to identify and secure at least 20 snow leopard landscapes across snow leopard range by the Year 2020. The success of GSLEP implementation will depend upon scaling up known and tested key actions and good practices, which will require incremental domestic and external financing of about $150-250 million over the first 7 years of the program, subject to additional cost harmonization. In turn, this hinges upon the ability of the World Bank, major multilateral partners like GEF and UNDP, and NGOs and governments to bring in, allocate and/or leverage enabling funding. Undoubtedly, the range country governments have high expectations that external funding will be made available.

As the GSLEP notes (page viii), “Good practices that have proven successful in one or more range countries are being scaled-up in those countries or emulated in others. For example, programs to increase community participation in conservation, improve livelihoods, and address human-wildlife conflict have been tested in China, Nepal, India, Pakistan, and Russia with very promising results including reductions in poaching of snow leopards and increased willingness to co-exist with the predators. Creation of anti-poaching teams and stiff penalties for poaching have also proven effective in Kyrgyz Republic, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia. Establishment of PAs has brought significant areas under protection in Bhutan, China, Tajikistan, India, and many countries plan to create new PAs or strengthen their existing PA system. Effective scientific monitoring programs are being conducted in Afghanistan, China, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Kyrgyz Republic, and Russia and their methods can be applied, with adaptation as necessary. In other areas, such as engaging industry, capacity building and policy enhancement, and building awareness, successful models are available from other parts of developing and developed world.”

9.11. Legal status

Snow leopards have been included in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) since 1975, and hence all international commercial trade in the species, its parts and derivatives is prohibited. Kyrgyzstan became a Party to CITES in 2007 leaving Tajikistan as the only range state not currently a party to CITES but with discussions underway to complete the process (see Table 13.1). In general, implementation and enforcement of the Convention’s provision varies in the different countries and is, in many cases, insufficient. In fact, none of the countries have been reporting illegal trade issues concerning snow leopards as they are obliged to do under CITES Resolution Conf. 12.5 on Asian Cats.

The species has been listed in Appendix I of the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) since 1985. Six of the twelve snow leopard range states are party to CMS (Table 13.1). With regard to species listed in Appendix I, Parties to the Convention are requested to i) conserve and restore the habitat of the species, ii) prevent, remove, compensate or minimize adverse effects of activities or obstacles that seriously impede their migration, and iii) prevent, reduce or control factors that are endangering or are likely to further endanger the species. In addition, the Convention requests Parties to prohibit the harvest or taking of animals belonging to such species. At the 7th Conference of the Parties to CMS the snow leopard attained the status of a ‘concerted action species’, for which cooperative activities such as the development of a CMS Agreement must be carried out between the concerned Parties (CMS 2002). The CMS Central Asian Mammals Initiative (CAMI) addresses the conservation of 15 species including snow leopard and one of its prey species, argali. A CAMI program of work will be proposed for adoption at the 11th CMS Conference of the Parties in November 2014.

National Level:

Snow leopards are legally protected in all range countries. However, legislation may not always be fully effective for several reasons, such as penalties being too low to function as deterrents, weak enforcement, or because laws and legal procedures contain significant loopholes. The economic and political situations present in many of the snow leopard range countries also negatively affect law enforcement activities to varying degrees. Wildlife rangers and enforcement personnel are often poorly equipped and live on extremely low wages. In addition, corruption appears to be a common factor in a number of snow leopard range states and plays a considerable role in the inability of some range states to tackle wildlife crime effectively (Anon. 2003).

Table 9.1: Snow Leopard range countries states and participation in Multilateral Environmental Agreements.

Country CITES Date of entry into force NLP category CMS Date of entry into force
Afghanistan Yes Jan 1986 3 No
Bhutan Yes Nov 2002 No
China Yes Apr 1981 2 No
India Yes Oct 1976 2 Yes Nov 1983
Kazakhstan Yes Jan 2000 Yes May 2006
Kyrgyzstan Yes Sep 2007 Yes May 2014
Mongolia Yes Apr 1996 3 Yes Nov 1999
Nepal Yes Sep 1975 3 No
Pakistan Yes Jul 1976 3 Yes Dec 1987
Russia Yes Jan 1992 2 No
Tajikistan No Yes Feb 2001
Uzbekistan Yes Oct 1997 3 Yes Sep 1998

Afghanistan

In 2009, Afghanistan declared its list of protected species (NEPA 2012), which includes the snow leopard, banning all hunting or harvest of the species. The list is to be reviewed every five years by a panel of experts.

Bhutan

Hunting of snow leopards is prohibited through the Forest and Nature Conservation Act 1995. Killing of a snow leopard can result in a fine of BTN 15,000 (approx. USD 309), which is among the highest fines for killing an animal in Bhutan and approximately twice the annual income of a wildlife warden).

China

The Wildlife Animal Protection Law (WAPL) of the People’s Republic of China (1989) and the Enforcement Regulations for the Protection of Terrestrial Wildlife of the People’s Republic of China (1992) are the two principal laws providing full protection to snow leopard in China. Snow leopard is listed as Class I protected species under WAPL, which means hunting and trade in their products are criminal offences, although permits may be granted for special purposes such as scientific research, domestication, breeding, or exhibition (O’Connell-Rodwell and Parry-Jones, 2002). The Criminal Law, last amended in 1997, provides severe penalties for unlawful taking, killing transporting, purchase or sale of State protected animal species including the snow leopard. Provinces can adopt their own protection regulations which can be more stringent (but not less) than the national legislation.

India

Protected in India under the National Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 as well as under the Jammu and Kashmir Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1978, and is listed in Schedule I of both Acts. In 1986, the National Wildlife (Protection) Act was amended through the inclusion of a new chapter that prohibited the trade in all Scheduled species. After this amendment the maximum penalty for offences against animals listed in Schedule I of this Act is seven years imprisonment and a fine of INR 25,000 (approx. USD 408.83 as of current exchange rate, August 5, 2014). However, as the Jammu and Kashmir Wildlife (Protection) Act was not amended until 2002, the punishment under the latter remained as maximum imprisonment of six years and a maximum fine of INR 2,000 (approx. USD 32.71). Trade in snow leopard skins continued in Jammu and Kashmir until the end of the 1990s, due to loopholes in the legislation and a long pending court case in the Supreme Court of India against the general ban on trade in any part derived from protected Scheduled species (Panjwani, 1997). Following the most recent amendment of the Wildlife Protection Act of Jammu and Kashmir in 2002, similar to the national Act, all trade in parts of scheduled (Schedule 1,2,3) animals is considered illegal and the maximum penalties are the same as under the national Wildlife Protection Act.

Kazakhstan

Protected under the Law on Protection, Reproduction and Use of the Animal World of July 2004 wherein hunting, possession and sale of species listed as rare and endangered are prohibited.

Kyrgyzstan

Hunting, possession and trade of snow leopard are prohibited in Kyrgyzstan through the Law on the Animal World (1999). Hunting of snow leopards has been prohibited since 1948, and the species was listed in the national Red Data Book of the Kyrgyz SSR since 1985. The snow leopard is listed as “critically endangered” in the second edition of the Red Book of the Kyrgyz Republic (2006). Species listed in the Red Book are generally protected, but can be taken from nature based on special decisions by the government.

Mongolia

In 1972, the snow leopard was listed in the Mongolian Red Data Book as ‘very rare’ and hunting is prohibited since then. However, sport hunting of the species was legal until 1992. The new Hunting Law of 1995 prohibits the hunting, trapping, or selling of snow leopard hides and any other part. However, until April 2000 there was no legal restriction on purchasing, owning, or possessing of snow leopard parts. After strong lobbying activities by several national conservation NGOs, the Hunting Law of 1995 was revised and a new Law of Fauna (2000) was enacted. This law specifically prohibits the sale or purchase of any snow leopard part. In addition, the law includes provisions to provide ‘whistle-blowers’ with 15% of the total fines paid by the offender. The government of Mongolia passed a resolution (# 23) in 2011 to update the ecological-economic value of wildlife. The snow leopard was valued at MNT 11,200,000 (USD 7,466) for a male and 13,000,000 (USD 8,666) for a female. Amongst prey species, the ibex was valued MNT 2,700,000 (USD 1,800) for male, and MNT 3,100,000 (USD 2,066) for females, while argali at MNT 11,000,000 (USD 7,333) for male and 12,000,000 (USD 8,000) for females. The penalty for killing these species is twice the economic value of the species. Special permission to kill endangered species including the snow leopard can be granted for the purpose of scientific research. An attempt to exploit this provision was made in 2010 to initiate a hunting program, but permission was subsequently cancelled by the government following objections by Mongolian conservationists and the Snow Leopard Network.

Nepal

Fully protected in Nepal under the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (NPWC) Act 2029 since 1973. Under the Fourth Amendment of the Act it is illegal to hunt, acquire, buy or sell snow leopard parts such as its skin, and the penalties for persons convicted of such offences can be up to NRS 100,000 (approx. USD 1,300), or 5-15 years in prison. Nepal has also established ‘whistle-blower’ regulations.

Pakistan

The snow leopard is protected in Pakistan, where wildlife management and protection are provincial subjects, and therefore, federal level wildlife legislation is not deemed necessary. However, the restrictions and obligations under CITES are managed by the federal government. Snow leopard is legally protected in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), Gilgit Baltistan (GB) and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) through provincial wildlife legislation. The NWFP (former name of KPK) Wildlife (Protection, Preservation, Conservation and Management) Act, 1975, for example, prohibits the hunting, capturing and killing of any ‘protected animal’. Section 14 of the Act specifically refers to trade and prohibits the trade and/or sale in snow leopard, their trophies and meat (Khan, 2002). The maximum fine for violation of the Act is two years of imprisonment and/or a fine of one thousand PKR (approx. USD 10). The Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Wildlife (Protection, Preservation, Conservation and Management) Ordinance, 2012, includes snow leopard in its Third Schedule (Protected Animals; i.e. animals which shall not be hunted, killed or captured). In Gilgit-Baltistan, snow leopards are protected through the Northern Areas (former name of GB) Wildlife Conservation Act, 1975. However, there is a provision under section 22 of the Act that sanctions the eradication of so-called “problem animals”. Under this provision a designated official of the wildlife department or a private individual can eradicate an animal that threatens private property or human life. In cases where an animal inflicts damage to property, however, such as by killing of livestock, there is no mechanism for compensation to the affected individual (Hussain, 2003).

Russia

At the federal level three main laws apply to snow leopard protection: the Law of Environment Conservation, the Law on the Animal World (Fauna) No 52 of March 1995 and the Law on Specially Protected Natural Areas No 33 of 14 March 1995. The snow leopard is also included in the Red List of the Russian Federation and the Law of the Animal World makes special reference to species listed in the Red Data Book. The maximum penalty that can be imposed for the killing, illegal possession, or trade under paragraph 258 of the Criminal Code is up to 2 years of imprisonment. However, enforcement of this legislation is limited.

Tajikistan

Listed in the Red Book of the Tajik SSR in 1988. Species listed in the Red Book are protected under the Law on Environmental Protection (2011) and the Law on the Animal World (2008). The maximum fine for the illegal killing of a snow leopard is ten months of the minimum wage.

Uzbekistan

The snow leopard is protected in Uzbekistan under the Law on Nature Protection of January 1993 and its hunting, possession and sale are prohibited. It is also included in the Red Data Book of Uzbekistan. The maximum fine for violations of the Law on Nature Protection is 50 times the minimum wage of the offender or 2 years imprisonment.

9.12. Country Strategies and Action Plans

Nine range countries have developed official Snow Leopard Action Plans or Strategies. Some of these plans have been officially approved, while are still awaiting formal endorsement. These country-specific plans are available in the online library of the Snow Leopard Network.

In 2012-2013, in the run-up to the Global Snow Leopard Forum in Bishkek, all range countries followed a standard format to develop their respective National Snow Leopard Ecosystem Protection Priorities (NSLEP) in a coordinated exercise. These are summarized in the Global Snow Leopard Ecosystem Protection Priorities (GSLEP) document (reference above).

India

The National planning process was initiated in 2005 by the Nature Conservation Foundation and Snow Leopard Trust, and the final strategy, called Project Snow Leopard, was approved by the government in 2009. (http://www.snowleopardnetwork.org/actionplans/India_PSL.pdf)

Kazakhstan

The national plan drafting was assisted by the Snow Leopard Fund, Kazakhstan, and was completed in 2011. It has been approved by the Scientific Technical Council of the Forest and Hunting Committee of the Ministry of Agriculture. http://www.snowleopardnetwork.org/actionplans/Kazakhstan_SLAP_2013.pdf)

Kyrgyzstan

The drafting process was initiated in 2012, assisted by FFI. The final version of the national plan was approved by the Prime Minister in August 2013 but has not yet been published.

Mongolia

The Mongolian Snow Leopard Conservation Plan was developed in 1999. The National Snow leopard Policy was approved by Mongolian Parliament in 2005. In 2008, snow leopard experts who participated in Beijing conference on “Range-wide Conservation Planning for Snow Leopards” suggested “10 year action plan for Mongolia” to the Government of Mongolia to build on previously approved plan of National Snow Leopard Policy. Although accepted and signed by all partners, the plan must be discussed and approved at the National Endangered Species Commission before it can be recognized as official policy.

Nepal

A Snow Leopard Conservation Action Plan was drafted for the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation – Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation of the Government of Nepal, in collaboration with WWF Nepal Program and King Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservation. It was submitted to the Government and is awaiting endorsement. (http://www.snowleopardnetwork.org/actionplans/Nepal_SLAP_2013.pdf)

Pakistan

Government agencies, conservation NGOs, and other stakeholders met in spring 2001 to develop a Strategic Plan for the Conservation of Snow Leopards in Pakistan. The planning process was led by WWF- Pakistan. The strategic plan was endorsed by the Federal Ministry of Environment in 2008. However, its recommendations were not implemented, and it has been recently revised and updated in the form of the country’s NSLEP for the Global Snow Leopard Forum, through a process facilitated by the Climate Change Division, Government of Pakistan. (http://www.snowleopardnetwork.org/actionplans/pakistan.pdf)

Russia

A Strategy for Conservation of the Snow Leopard in the Russian Federation was developed by a working group comprising representatives of the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation, representatives of state and environmental authorities of the republics Altai, Khakasia, Tyva, Krasnoyarsk region, Commission on Large Carnivores of the Theriological Society of the Russian Academy of Sciences and WWF Russia. The strategy was approved by the Conservation of Biodiversity Section of the Scientific Technical Council of the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation. It was also approved by the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation in December 2001. The strategy was updated in 2012. (http://www.snowleopardnetwork.org/sln/ActionPlans.php)

Tajikistan

The National snow leopard planning process, led by the Institute of Zoology and Parasitology of the Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan, aided by FFI and Panthera was initiated in 2010. The draft plan is awaiting final approval by the government.

Uzbekistan A National Action Plan for the period 2005–2010 was developed in 2004 and approved jointly at a roundtable attended by the State Committee of Nature Protection of the Uzbekistan Republic, Ministry of Agriculture and Water Management of Uzbekistan Republic, Uzbekistan Zoological Society, Institute of Zoology of Academy of Science of Uzbekistan Republic, National University, Chatkal Biosphere, Hissar Nature Reserves, Ugam-Chatkal National Park, and others. (http://www.snowleopardnetwork.org/actionplans/uzbekistan.pdf)

9.13. Implementing conservation measures

The effectiveness of conservation measures depends in large part upon correctly identifying the main underlying threats, then designing and implementing tightly targeted interventions that are most likely to reduce threat severity, including bringing about fundamental changes in human attitudes and behavior toward this large predator. The following paragraphs outline the main elements for adopting, refining and implementing conservation measures, based upon the collective experience of SLN members working across snow leopard range over the past few decades.

While many conservation actions require significant investment of resources and time to have the desired effect, the most successful and self-sustaining projects are those which:

  • Empower local people to adopt responsible actions supporting sustainable livelihood development while also protecting the environment, particularly snow leopards, their prey and habitat
  • Focus people’s attention on finding positive solutions rather than concentrating on problems or past failures
  • Ensure full and equitable participation of all major stakeholders (from the beginning through each stage of project planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation). Identify and establish local mechanisms (financial and governance) for helping implement interventions and activities that are agreed upon
  • Clearly and transparently articulate the roles, obligations and responsibilities expected of each stakeholder group (local people, government, NGOs etc.)
  • Encourage leadership by entrepreneurial individuals and create or strengthen village associations responsible for implementation
  • Provide a balanced set of incentives and disincentives which target the major threat(s) to snow leopards, their prey and habitat
  • Establish pilot projects and grassroots initiatives which serve as examples for other stakeholders and communities to adopt (a process that can be facilitated through community-to-community, NGO and government practitioner workshops, and exchanges or field study tours)
  • Provide the desired level of government and/or donor support over the medium or long-term rather than only for the short-term (3 years or less)
  • Recognize that “one solution does not fit all.” Rather, interventions must be crafted to fit the particular conditions at hand

Attitudes, interests and motivations vary widely, as do livelihood opportunities, economic conditions, and access to markets or natural resources. Gender and age have a major influence on labor allocation and responsibilities. Therefore, efforts at biodiversity conservation must target each gender strategically if the primary objective involves catalyzing long-term change in behavior and resource harvesting practices.

There are several different strategies for engaging communities in conservation and development initiatives. Appreciative Participatory Planning and Action (APPA) has proven to be among the more effective in some social economic, cultural and political contexts. APPA combines the framework of Appreciative Inquiry with tools from Participatory Learning and Action arena. APPA was pioneered by The Mountain Institute (www.mountain.org/tmi/appa.cfm) and its partners. Participatory Rural Appraisal/Assessment (PRA) and Rapid Rural Assessment (RRA) are very similar, and include a range of participatory techniques and tools that enable stakeholders to analyze their problems and then plan, implement and evaluate agreed-upon solutions. Analyses by outside agents should be balanced with participatory input by the main players from within the targeted community.

Li et al. (2013) point to the importance of Tibetan Buddhism among local people over much of snow leopard range, and highlight the potential role of the Buddhist Monasteries as partners in implementing snow leopard conservation strategies.

9.14. Importance of project monitoring

The selection of suitable indicators for monitoring is crucial in achieving successful and sustained conservation outputs. Indicators need to be:

  • Time-bound and meaningful for the spatial and temporal scales under consideration
  • Measurable and specific with the values varying proportionately in response to change from the baseline conditions
  • Verifiable and consistently applied by different persons over the life of the project
  • Appropriate in terms of scale, available resources, and cultural context
  • Logistically and economically feasible

Process indicators include e.g. example number of families involved, extent of livelihood degeneration, and the extent of threats reduction.

Monitoring should be undertaken by the project’s beneficiaries as well as its sponsors (government, NGOs, INGOs etc.) in the interest of cementing project ownership and encouraging the sharing of information and new knowledge. The lessons learned are a vital component of Adaptive Project Management which enables communities and their conservation practitioners to periodically make necessary changes leading to more effective and efficient project outputs.

9.15. Resources

The manual titled “Measures of Success” by Richard Margolius and Nick Salafsky (1998) offers a useful guide to designing, managing and implementing conservation and development projects based on the threat-alleviation model. For information on Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) and using their related tools, we suggest the following handbooks (though there are many other handbook, numerous scientific and popular articles on the subject, as any internet search will show):

Ashford, G. and Patkar, S. (2001). The Positive Path: Using Appreciative Inquiry in Rural Indian Communities (International Institute for Sustainable Development / Myrada, Winnipeg, Canada). http://myrada.org/myrada/docs/ai_the_postive_path.pdf

Margoluis, R. and Salafsky, N. (1998). Measures of Success: designing, managing, and monitoring conservation and development projects. Island Press, Washington DC. 362 pages.

Pretty, J.N., Guijt, I., Scoones, I. and Thompson, J. (1995). A Trainer’s Guide for Participatory Learning and Action. IIED Participatory Methodology Series, International Institute for Environment and Development, London, 267 pages.

9.16. Recommendations

Table 9.2 summarizes conservation interventions and activities, comparing them with respect to their relative cost, technical and logistical complexity, potential pitfalls and monitoring needs (from Jackson et al. 2010). Recommended actions on ecotourism, handicrafts and education / awareness are detailed in Tables 9.3. to 9.5 below. Actions to address other threats are included in preceding chapters. Actions should all be implemented in conjunction with other planning documents endorsed by range states including the respective National Environmental Protection Plans (NSLEPs) and the overarching Global Snow Leopard Environmental Protection Plan (GSLEP).

Table 9.2: Summary of Conservation Interventions: guidelines and comparisons (Source: Jackson et al. 2010)

Click to download PDF of this Table.

Table 9_2_Summary_of_Conservation_Interventions_Guidelines_and_Comparisons

Table 9.3. Wildlife tourism – Suggested Action Guidelines

Policy – Government level Community level
Steps
  • Educate decision makers about benefits & pitfalls of ecotourism
  • Integrate with national or international responsible tourism campaigns
  • Seek funding for rural tourism development
  • Explore “wildlife valuation” funding mechanisms
  • Determine stakeholder groups
  • Assess local capacity to provide services such as guiding, pack animal rental, campsites, homestays, teahouses, handicrafts sales, etc.
  • Determine training needs and sources
  • Develop wildlife tourism plan and marketing strategy which allows for equitable & transparent benefit distribution, and is market-sensitive
  • Identify actions to be taken to benefit wildlife, local environment & community (e.g., conservation fund, grazing land set-aside)
Stakeholders:
  • Local, regional, national government agencies, including national planning & finance
  • NGOs, INGOs
  • Local communities
  • Tour operators and travel agencies
  • NGOs, CBOs (community-based organizations)
Potential Pitfalls:
  • Relatively low abundance and visibility of wildlife (compared to e.g. East Africa)
  • Remoteness & logistical constraints & costs
  • Market saturation & competition with easier-to-see species – all of snow leopard range cannot be a tourist destination
  • Inequitable distribution of financial benefits of tourism may lead to resentment & internal friction in communities
  • Failure to implicitly link conservation and business objectives
  • May expose remote snow leopard area to international poachers
Monitoring Protocols/Success Indicators Biological:

  • Numbers, trends and productivity of wild ungulates
  • Minimum number snow leopards, frequency of sightings, sign density
  • Quality of pastures & wildlife habitat

Socio-economic:

  • Level of economic benefit to local people
  • Local attitudes toward wildlife and tourists by community
  • Involvement and co-financing provided by travel agents & other providers
  • Tourist awareness of local conservation & cultural issues
  • Visitor satisfaction surveys
Education/Public Awareness:
  • Publicize examples of best practice conservation linked wildlife-tourism at the level of policy
  • Publicize examples of best practice
  • Promote ecofriendly business partners
  • Publicize successes, biological and economic

Resources:

Berkes F, Colding J., and Folke , C. (2000). Rediscovery of traditional knowledge as adaptive management. Ecological Applications, 10, 1251-1262.

Dickman, A.J., Macdonald, E.A. and Macdonald, D.W. (2011). A review of financial instruments to pay for predator conservation and encourage human–carnivore coexistence. PNAS , 108 (34), 13937-13944.

Eagles, PJ., McCool, S.F. and Haynes, C.D. (2002). Sustainable tourism in PAs: guidelines for planning and management. Best Practices PA Guidelines Series No 8, A. Phillips, Series Editor. IUCN-The World Conservation Union, 183 pages.

Jain, N and Triraganon, R. (2003). Community-based tourism for conservation and development: a training manual. The Mountain Institute, RECOFTC, 188 pages.

Lama, W.B., Jackson, R and Wangchuk, R. (2012. Snow Leopards and Himalayan Homestays: catalysts for community-based conservation in Ladakh. In: Mountain Biodiversity Conservation and Management: selected examples of good practices and lessons learned from the Hindu Kush Himalayan Region.

Chettri, N., Sherchan, U., Chaudhary, S. and Shakya , B. (Eds). Working Paper 2012/2. International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Lindberg, K., and Hawkins, D.E. (Eds). (1999). Ecotourism: a guide for planners and managers (2 volumes). The Ecotourism Society, Washington DC.

Mishra, C., Bagchi, S., Namgail, T and Bhatnagar, YV. (2009). Multiple use of Trans-Himalayan rangelands: reconciling human livelihoods with wildlife conservation. Pages. 291-311 In: Wild rangelands: Conserving wildlife while maintaining livestock in semi-arid ecosystems. (Eds.) J. du Toit, R. Kock, and J. Deutsch. Blackwell Publishing, London.

Sandbrook, C.G. (2010). Local economic impact of different forms of nature-based tourism. Conservation Letters, 3(1), 21–28.

Tresilian, D. (2006). Poverty alleviation and community-based tourism: Experiences from Central and South Asia. UNESCO, Paris, 100 pages.

 

Websites:

The International Ecotourism Society (TIES): NGO dedicated to promoting ecotourism, through annual conferences and support for guidelines and standards, training, technical assistance, and educational resources. TIES’ global network of ecotourism professionals and travelers is leading the efforts to make tourism a viable tool for conservation, protection of bio-cultural diversity, and sustainable community development. http://www.ecotourism.org/

World Tourism Organization (UNWTO): the United Nations agency responsible for promoting responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism. Provides information on tourism policy, practical sources of know-how and marketing information. UNWTO is committed to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and helping reducing poverty and foster sustainable development. http://www2.unwto.org/

Cottage handicrafts

Research required prior to taking action:

•          Assess the nature and extent of the conservation threat and actions required

•          Assess target community income generation needs and opportunities

•          Conduct biological baseline survey to enable impact monitoring

  •      Incentives, bonus payments and contractual arrangements for compliance, including willingness of community to deter members or non-members who break compliance agreement and wildlife protection rules.

Table 9.4. Cottage Industry – Suggested Action Guidelines

Policy- Government level Community level
Steps
  • Gain government recognition of need and importance of community generated conservation contracts
  • Gain local governments and/or PA administration support in development of conservation contracts
  • Establish communications channel for reporting contract violations
  • Foster government – community collaboration in monitoring compliance & project outcomes
  • Help secure technical assistance, including NGO support for product development, skills training, marketing & snow leopard friendly product endorsement
  • Conduct ongoing independent scientific monitoring for relevant biological indicators and to ensure contract compliance
Contract – Compliance development:

  • Identify stakeholders (especially entrepreneurial individuals)
  • Define conservation actions the community will commit to in exchange for livelihood skills training with income generation opportunities
  • Prepare conservation contract with explicit conservation and business commitments
  • Establish incentive structure (e.g., bonus payment)
  • Develop monitoring and success indicators

 

Handicraft Products Development:

  • Evaluate skills, capacity, and training needs
  • Determine demand, profit potential, development & management / accounting needs
  • Develop business plan and product distribution strategy
  • Mobilize support mechanisms (e.g., micro-credit, trade & marketing associations)
Stakeholders:
  • PA administration and wildlife conservation agencies
  • National planning & finance departments
  • NGOs, private business sector
  • Micro-credit agencies
  • Local communities particularly in buffer zones of Pas
  •  Local businesses and traders
Potential Pitfalls:
  • High logistical costs due to remoteness and difficulty of access
  • High development and transaction costs for internationally marketed products (demand for new products and designs)
  • Time constraints imposed by climate and production cycles
  • Consistently meeting quality expectations of broad market; shortage of skilled artisans
  • Pressure on natural resources if materials used are in short supply or are overharvested
  • Failure to implicitly and explicitly link conservation and business objectives
Monitoring Protocols/Success Indicator Biological:

  • Numbers, trends and productivity of wild ungulates if appropriate
  • Minimum number snow leopards, frequency of sightings, sign density
  • Other indicators as determined by community and conservationists

Socio-economic

  • Numbers of local people gaining benefit
  • Financial impact at household and community levels
  • Public attitudes to snow leopards
    • Business goals and growth targets
Education/Public Awareness:
  • Publicize examples of best practice conservation linked income generation
  • Publicize success indicators, both biological and socio-economic
  • Promote snow leopard friendly community livelihoods and enterprises

Resources:

Cattermoul, B., Townsley, P., and Campbell, J. (2008). Sustainable livelihoods enhancement and diversification (SLED): a manual for practitioners. IUCN and IMM. Ltd., 85 pages. Available for download from: http://www.icran.org/pdf/SLED%20Manual%20Final%20-%20Low%20Res.pdf

Koontz, A. (2008). The Conservation marketing equation: a manual for conservation and development professionals. USAID & EnterpriseWorks/VITA, 35 pages.

Mishra C., Allen P., McCarthy T.M., Madhusudan, M.D., Bayarjargal , A. and Prins H.H.T. (2003). The role of incentive programs in conserving the snow leopard (Uncia uncia.) Conservation Biology, 17, 1512-1523

SNV (Nepal). (2004). Developing sustainable communities: a toolkit for development practitioners. Kathmandu, Nepal, 209 pages. Available from: http://www.icimod.org/publications/index.php/search/publication/51

WebSites: IFAD’s Sustainable Livelihoods Approach webpage: http://www.ifad.org/sla/index.htm

Conservation Education and Awareness

Research required prior to taking action:

  • Current attitudes or level of understanding of specific issue among the target audience
  • Level of education, literacy, cultural factors influencing the choice of appropriate media

Table 9.5: Conservation Education and Awareness – Suggested Action Guidelines

Policy level Community level
Steps
  • Integrate conservation education into national curriculum
  • Prepare education campaign for law enforcement officers
  • Integrate departments into awareness campaigns
  • Identify local “coordinators” of conservation education, provide training
  • Identify key issues in target area
  • Identify target audience(s) and establish awareness baseline
  • Determine the message to be delivered and most appropriate media for conveying the message
  • Develop and disseminate educational materials
  • Conduct monitoring assessments (before and after)
Stakeholders &PotentialAudiences:
  • Government officials
  • Law enforcement officials
  • PA staff
  • Development agency staff
  • Policy makers & public media
  • Livestock herders
  • Hunters and poachers
  • Women and young people
  • Community elders and school teachers
Potential Pitfalls:
  • Low levels of education and literacy
  • Rigid school curricula, often lacking in relevant or up-to-date materials
  • Lack of, or insufficient teachers skilled in teaching participatory techniques
  • Linguistic and cultural barriers between different groups
  • Limited capacity & infrastructure of education systems (logistical constraints in remote sites)
  • Financial sustainability of any education campaign is difficult to maintain
Success indicators
  • Change in attitudes and behavior
  • Level of knowledge of wildlife in target audience
Education/public awareness
  • Disseminate lessons learned regarding successful strategies
  • Promote hands-on education, such as nature clubs

Resources:

Braus, J.A .and Wood, D. (1993). Environmental education in the schools – creating a program that works! Peace Corps Information Collection and Exchange, North American Association for Environmental Education.

Hart, R.A. (1997). Children’s participation: the theory and practice of involving young citizens in community development and environmental care. UNICEF and EarthScan, London. 208 pages

Jacob, S. and Skelton, L. (2009). Engaging students in conservation: protecting the endangered snow leopard. Available from Facing the Future and Snow Leopard Trust, Seattle, Washington (targets Grades 5-8 in US schools).

Jacobson, S.K., McDuff, M.D. and Monroe, M.C. (2006). Conservation education and outreach techniques. Oxford University Press, Techniques in Ecology and Conservation Series, Oxford. 480 pages.

Websites

North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE): Advocates excellence in environmental education, targeting professionals, students, and a global networked membership. http://www.naaee.net/

References

Hussain, S. (2000). Protecting the Snow Leopard and Enhancing Farmers’ Livelihoods: a Pilot Insurance Scheme in Baltistan. Mountain Research and Development, 20, 226-231.

Jackson, R. and Wangchuk, R. (2001). Linking snow leopard conservation and people-wildlife conflict resolution: grassroots measures to protect the endangered snow leopard from herder retribution. Endangered Species Update, 18(4), 138-141.

Jackson, R.M., Mishra, C., McCarthy, T.M. and Ale, S.B. (2010). Snow leopards: conflict and conservation. Chapter 18, pages 417-430: Biology and Conservation of Wild Felids (D.W. Macdonald and A.J. Loveridge, (Eds), Oxford University Press, UK, 762 pages.

Jackson, R. (2012). Fostering community-based stewardship of wildlife in Central Asia: transforming snow leopards from pests into valued assets, pages 357-380 In: Victor Squires (Ed.), Rangeland Stewardship in Central Asia: Balancing Improved Livelihoods, Biodiversity Conservation and Land Protection. DOI 10.1007/978-94-007-5367-915, Springer Science and Business Media, Dordrecht.

Margoluis, R. and Salafsky, N. (1998). Measures of Success: designing, managing, and monitoring conservation and development projects. Island Press, Washington DC. 362 pages.

Salafsky, N. and Margoluis , R. (1999). Threat reduction assessment: a practical and cost-effective approach to evaluating conservation and development projects. Conservation Biology, 13, 830-841.

Margoluis, R. and Salafsky, N. (undated). Is Our Project Succeeding? A guide to threat reduction assessment for conservation. Biodiversity Support Project, Washington DC. 52 pages. Available for download from: www.rmportal.net/library/content/tools/biodiversity-support-program/tra.pdf/download

Ale, S.B, Shrestha, B. and Jackson, R. (2014). On the status of Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia) (Schreber, 1775) in Annapurna, Nepal. Journal of Threatened Tax, 6, 5534–5543

Lyngdoh, S., Shrotriya, S., Goyal, S.P., Clements, H., Hayward, M.H. and Habib, B. (2014). Prey preferences of the snow leopard (Panthera uncia): Regional diet specificity holds global significance for conservation. PLOSone 9(2): e88349. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0088349

McCarthy, T, M., Murray, M., Sharma, K. and Johannson, O. (2010). Preliminary results of a long-term study of snow leopards in South Gobi, Mongolia. Cat News, 53, 15-18.

Paltsyn, M.Y., Spitsyn, S.V., Kuksin, A.N., Istomov, S.V. (2012). Snow leopard conservation in Russia: data for conservation strategy for snow leopard in Russia 2012-2020. WWF-Russia, Krasnoyarsk, 100 pages.

Rosen, T., Hussain, S., Mohammad, G., Jackson, R., Janecka, J. E., & Michel, S. (2012). Reconciling sustainable development of mountain communities with large carnivore conservation: Lessons from Pakistan. Mountain Research and Development, 32(3), 286-293.